Seeing Pregnancy Through Ceres’ Eyes

Tuesday March 20th 2012
Is this the most influential portrait of a woman from the 20th century?

You wouldn’t believe it now, but way back in 1991, this cover of Vanity Fair showing the then highest-earning actress in Hollywood naked and heavily pregnant caused a storm of controversy.


Because some people still thought pregnancy was gross. Yes, it’s incredible, but pregnancy was still something to be concealed under horrible maternity wear or, for the more fashion conscious, under deepest black. It was embarrassing, ungainly, unbeautiful.

This one picture changed all that. Now everyone knows pregnancy is gorgeous. It’s an emphatically positive statement about fertility, womanhood and beauty. This is one empowering picture.

The Venus of Willendorf
a mere 33,000 years old or so.

I have found that by transit or progression Ceres is often active during conception, pregnancy and childbirth. If you want to get pregnant or you’ve had a child, check the transits and see if it works for you.

This should not come as a surprise when you consider that Ceres is the goddess of the corn, of agriculture, of fertility. You may be more familiar with her under her Greek name, Demeter, mother of Persephone who was abducted by Hades. While her daughter is in the underworld with her husband for six months of the year, we have winter as Demeter is too sad to let things grow. When Persephone returns to the upper world, spring comes with her mother’s joy.

So what was happening with the planetoid Ceres at the time this cover was published? It was the August edition in 1991 – and Ceres is up to all kinds of stuff in the charts of Demi Moore, Annie Leibovitz who took the picture and just in general.

On the first of August, Ceres was at 29° Libra, the sign of beauty and style. She’d been hanging around in Venus’s sign during the photoshoot. 29 is a critical degree, a distillation of Libraness. Then Ceres moved into Scorpio, Demi Moore’s Sun sign. Over the next few months, Ceres would light up Moore’s natal Mercury, Neptune, Sun and Venus – all in sexy Scorpio.

That natal stellium is very glamourous anyway, what with Neptune, stardust, and Venus, beauty, combining – and over night this picture of Moore became an icon of fecund femininity.

But here’s a thing – natally Moore has Ceres sandwiched between the revolutionary Uranus-Pluto conjunction. And she did revolutionise perceptions of pregnancy. My generation flaunted it, thanks to Demi and her co-conspirator Leibovitz. What is more, her Ceres is opposite Jupiter and Chiron in fertile Pisces. Pisces rules the undercurrent of fashion, the unsaid trend, just the thing that everyone somehow ends up doing without quite knowing why or how they even know about it. So Jupiter is there in her chart and Chiron the healer.

The tightest aspect Ceres made on the August 1, 1991 was to healing Chiron in performing Leo, the sign of flaunting it.

Leibovitz, the beady eye behind the camera, creator of so many iconic shots, has Neptune, the photographer’s planet, exactly conjunct Ceres. And isn’t it interesting that the other image by her that is seared into our collective consciousness is this one of foetal John and motherly Yoko.

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  1. P says:

    Can I just say how much I’ve always loved that Yoko and John pic? The usual protective male / naked female narrative is just chucked out the window.
    Here, John is naked and vulnerable, and yes, clinging like a child to Yoko, no?
    What an interesting pic!

  2. Christina says:

    Yes – and it’s now what nearly 40 years old and yet still fresh and strange…

    That Leibovitz is a genuine icon-maker

  3. P says:

    40 years old? Whoa, that’s way older than me! And yes, it’s still fresh. The lighting, the posing; nothing seems to date this picture!

  4. Moonchild says:

    Quite remarkable, the Ceres in Moore’s natal chart.

    I’ve been trying to think of other 20th century portraits of women. Warhol’s Marilyn, but I’m not sure that’s really a portrait. The queen – a lot. Have you thought of doing a blog about the queen’s portraits? It might be quite revealing.

  5. P says:

    Moonchild: That’s a great idea! How does her face change with progressions and transits. Hmmm…

  6. Christina says:

    yes – that is… it’ll be the diamond jubilee post, noch

  7. Anonymous says:

    I vividly remember the dawn of wearable maternity wear. As I recall, it took over a decade for the designers to get it consistently right, but they started trying right after this appeared. It really is the most gorgeous, glamorous, sexy shot.

    Liebovitz and Moore also collaborated on another socially disruptive cover: Demi clad only in makeup, applied to look like a tuxedo. Gender-quiveringly arresting, and using that quintessentially feminine thing of makeup to cross-dress her completely blew some people’s brains out of their little skulls. Quite a pair of revolutionaries, those two.


  8. Sabrina says:

    This is a Wonderful post Christina, Thanks! I love those images…Leibovitz work is brilliant! Love their guts too! and well, learning more about Ceres is always a pleasure. I’m so glad that I had to enjoy my pregnancies in these times. Hardly any maternity clothes for this gal, thanks…Venus and Ceres in Aquarius in 5th!